After a weirdly-timed international break, Bayern Munich return to Bundesliga action for only the fourth time this season. By sheer coincidence, both games against RB Leipzig during this campaign have come after international breaks, which could’ve had interesting implications for the title race if this was the same Leipzig we’d seen in previous years.
Of course they’re not the same Leipzig, chiefly because their former manager is now coaching Bayern Munich. Julian Nagelsmann said he expects a challenging game from the Lawnballers, especially now that Domenico Tedesco has stabilized their season somewhat. Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, are only six points behind in the title race — only a couple of losses separate 1st and 2nd in the league right now.
Alphonso Davies (myocarditis) and Leon Goretzka (patellar tendon injury) are both still out indefinitely, with no news on when they’ll be back. It’s possible that neither player will feature at all in February. The international break allowed Josip Stanisic to get fit — he’ll likely be in the squad, and Lucas Hernandez is also confirmed fit after suffering an injury scare in training yesterday. Bouna Sarr and Choupo-Moting are still at AFCON (even though Choupo’s been eliminated).
So let’s talk about the lineup. Obviously, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller will start up top, they’re practically unbenchable. One leads Europe in goals, another leads the charts in assists — they make a great duo. Joining them will likely be Leroy Sane on the left, with either Serge Gnabry or Kingsley Coman on the right. Coman’s performances have been better lately, so we’ll go with the Frenchman. Jamal Musiala and Paul Wanner could make appearances off the bench.
In midfield, Joshua Kimmich will probably partner with a newly resurgent Corentin Tolisso. The Frenchman is playing for a new contract (either at Bayern or somewhere else) and the injury to Leon Goretzka gives him an opportunity to show what he can do. Marcel Sabitzer and Marc Roca are the other options Nagelsmann has in midfield, but barring injury they’ll probably be relegated to the bench for this one.
The defense will be key for this game, as RB Leipzig have a threatening attack, with the likes of Christopher Nkunku and Andre Silva. Without Alphonso Davies, Lucas Hernandez will have to do the heavy lifting at left-back. Dayot Upamecano and Niklas Sule are the most likely candidates to start in the center, while Benjamin Pavard will likely feature at right-back. Manuel Neuer, as usual, will start in goal.
Here’s what the lineup should look like:
- A winger (like Gnabry) in for a center-back, making the same hyper-offensive lineup we saw against Hertha Berlin.
- Omar Richards at left-back, in case anything happens to Lucas.
- Jamal Musiala in the center instead of Tolisso, if Nagelsmann is serious about making him the next Thiago.
Bild predicts Gnabry to start instead of Coman. Otherwise, our lineups are identical.
Bayern's predicted XI against Leipzig, according to BILD:— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) February 4, 2022
Neuer – Pavard, Süle, Upamecano, Hernández - Kimmich, Tolisso - Gnabry, Müller, Sané - Lewandowski
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